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Match Reports

U's Suffer Opening Day Defeat

New season starts with a 3-1 loss at Accrington Stanley

5 August 2017

The U's were beaten by three goals to one on the first day of the season, with Sammie Szmodics' late effort just a consolation.

First half goals from Kayden Jackson and Billy Kee gave the hosts a 2-0 half time lead, and there was more bad news with Tom Eastman limping off with an ankle injury.

Omar Beckles added a third just after the hour mark, before Szmodics reduced the arrears with a late tap in.

The U's had good chances at good stages in the game, but the hosts ruthlessness in their finishing was the difference. 

It was an attacking line-up for the U’s in this first game of the season, with Drey Wright taking up the left wingback role, and both Mikael Mandron and Denny Johnstone starting up front.

And it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal, with Drey Wright just failing to get a shot away from a Ryan Jackson long throw.

Jackson then had a chance of his own, but was rushed in the process of shooting and Chapman made a comfortable save with his legs.

Both those chances came in the first five minutes, but the U’s were behind three later, when Accrington scored from their first real attack.

Great interplay in the centre of the pitch bypassed the U’s midfield and then a through ball put Kayden Jackson in on goal, he slotted home calmly past Sam Walker.

The hosts were getting the ball into good wide areas and from a right wing cross to the far post, Richards-Everton’s header was well saved before McConville shot wide.

Craig Slater should have equalised for the U’s on fifteen minutes, but couldn’t keep a shot on target after great work on the right from Jackson.

Following this chance, the game settled down, with both sides failing to get behind their opposing defences.

That changed on thirty-one minutes, with Accrington doubling the lead.

McConville got in on the left far too easily, and when his initial cross was blocked out, Billy Kee followed up to finish well through the bodies.

As the home side continued to get forward, another cross was touched away from danger by Tom Eastman, but it came at a cost to the U’s centre half.

He landed awkwardly and despite carrying on for a few minutes, had to be replaced by Cole Kpekawa.

A miskicked clearance by Wright offered up the next chance for the hosts, but the ensuring scramble was cleared by Jackson, who was fully involved in his debut for the U’s.

The final chance of the first half came at the other end, with Johnstone controlling at the far post before having his shot well blocked by defenders.

A 2-0 deficit at the break saw John McGreal make his second and third substitution at the start of the second half, bringing on Sammie Szmodics and Lewis Kinsella.

And Szmodics had an early chance to reduce the arrears within a couple of minutes of coming on.

Wright did well on the left to get behind the full back and found Szmodics with a pull back – unfortunately, Szmodics could only put his sidefoot wide of the far post.

The U’s looked sharp at the start of the second period but shot themselves in the foot just after the hour mark when they conceded a soft third goal.

A corner was put into the far post, Nolan won the header and the ball dropped for Beckles to swivel and score with a low shot from around the penalty spot.

It was a blow for the U’s, but after an initial wobble, they regrouped and took the game back to Accrington.

Szmodics was smothered out before he could get a shot away, Mandron had his shot blocked and then shot wide with another effort.

He was causing Accrington problems, and it was from his industry that the U’s finally got on the scoresheet ten minutes from time.

He wriggled free at the angle of the box and his deflected shot was turned in by a sliding Szmodics at the far post.

It proved to be only a consolation for the U’s though, and Kinsella’s long range effort over the bar was the final effort the U’s had.

The final whistle went on a disappointing afternoon in the North West, although there were second half positives to take from the 3-1 defeat.

The U’s will have to harness them, as they now prepare to take on Championship side Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.

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